Never Stop Driving #21: The Corvette Z06 and superhuman drivers

Since robot drivers don’t get tired, check the ’gram from behind the wheel, or indulge in a three-martini lunch, they’re obviously safer, right? That’s a hard hypothesis to argue against since a huge percentage of traffic fatalities are caused by impaired drivers. Waymo, the autonomous driver company started by Google, went a step further and tried to quantify just how much safer.

In a recently released study, Waymo created a simulated superhuman driver, who was always alert, whom it pitted against its robots. Not surprisingly, Waymo’s computerized modeling demonstrated that the robot avoided 75% of collisions while the computer-generated “human” managed to avoid disaster only 62.5% of the time. If this sounds like academic navel gazing, the point, according to this article in The Verge, is to develop methods for evaluating the safety performance of robot drivers. The article also speculates that the Waymo study might spur legislators to allow more AVs on the road.

Speaking of legislators, New York announced that it plans to adopt California’s EV mandate. You’ll remember that California announced in August that it will end the sale of gasoline-powered cars in 2035. Well, sort of. The Empire State’s proposed rules differ slightly and will give plug-in hybrids the same status as EVs.

Meanwhile, Akio Toyoda, the President of Toyota, defended his company’s strategy of investing in EVs but not planning to completely switch to an all-electric lineup. Toyoda cited concerns over the supply of battery metals and the charging infrastructure while also pointing out that Toyota’s plug-in hybrids serve most customers for less money than EVs. Interestingly, Toyoda is also bullish on hydrogen-fuel cells, a technology which seems forever in purgatory.

The biggest news of the past week, for us car fans, was the debut of the hottest Corvette ever produced, the new Z06. Hagerty’s Eddy Eckart drove it on-track and wrote this review, and here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: The car’s a heart-stopper—supercar-fast but practical. In traditional Corvette fashion, it’s also a great value. My favorite bit is the engine, a 5.5-liter V-8 that revs to 8600 rpm, produces 670 horsepower, and scoots the Z06 to 60 mph in under three seconds. Top speed is just under 200 mph. Holy moly. Check out Don Sherman’s detailed explanation of this extraordinary powerplant. If this is the last gas-burning Corvette—and that is pure speculation—I can’t imagine a more fitting tribute.


Another car in the “fastest” category is the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS. We’ve produced both a written review and a video. This car has another cracking engine, a 4.0-liter six-cylinder with 518 horsepower, a 9000-rpm redline, and an engine wail that’ll give even the dead goosebumps. We debate all the time if the Corvette and 911 are marketplace rivals. Porsche folks typically respect the Corvette but would not consider owning one. The same goes in reverse for ‘Vette people. Yet the two race in the same classes in GT racing, lure buyers with ever-more-powerful high-performance models, and are proof that at least two companies understand the passion of folks like us.

These are very heady days.

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    That Z06 seems to be the supercar bargain of the moment – wonder how much the dealer markup will be?

    I’m looking forward to seeing your take on the Z06 if you get a chance to drive it. I just finished reading the October 97 issue of Car and Driver noticed your glowing counterpoint on the C5 convertible first road test.

    Hey thanks. Yeah, I spent a ton of time in C5s, which were so fast and comfortable for not a lot of money. Haven’t fallen for the C8 yet and I think this new motor is the reason to love the new car…

    I still do not understand why the big shipping boat, tugs, etc.. industry does not get on board for the hydrogen fuel cell technology. The West Coast area near Santa Barbara has all these boats that go down to the port etc. and pollute that area. Mr. Toyoda is a big hydrogen proponent for vehicles will be interesting how that develops. Even small engines, generators, etc. could be converted to hydrogen rather than LP or Natural Gas. I am sure technology could develop hydrogen for leaf blowers, lawn mowers, chain saws, outboard boat motors, etc. which are HUGE polluters.

    Heading to VIR tomorrow for SVRA/Trans Am/Optima Streetcar Challenge and of course going to put my 200,000 miles original owner 1984 20th Anniversary Mustang in the Hagerty Cars and Caffeine. Looking forward to a great day. Hope to see some Hagerty Members.

    I am a Porsche guy who WOULD consider a C8, especially in Z06 form. I currently drive a 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. I have 15,474 miles on it including track days at Mid-Ohio, Pitt Race and Nelson Ledges. I went to the Ron Fellows C8 school in Pahrump, Nevada last February. I have to say I was impressed, especially at the price point. With the advent of the Z06 a good car seems to have become even better. Yes, there will be dealer markups (at least for now), but Porsche dealers are doing the same thing on popular cars. I usually switch fun cars every 3-4 years and the C8 Z06 will definitely be on my shopping list in 2024 or 2025.

    There’s a size difference to consider too. The C8 is pretty wide and feels like it takes up much of a lane. The Cayman always felt tidier to me, which I like.

    It’s well known that the last pure-ICE Corvette will be the ZR1, effectively a Z06 with two added turbos jacking output over 800hp. Wait for it!

    My hunch: Toyota is laying in the weeds waiting to buy-in to EV tech vs. spending the inheritance to do it themselves, and I doubt they are the only ones. We’re heard little of possible combinations with them compared to Europeans. Given their presence in the far corners of the world (where running water is an innovation,) not going full EV would make a lot of sense. They will be EV-enough for the costal markets, to be sure, but will not bet the farm or push dealer investments in the short term. And, anyone who has not yet heard the Z06 at full chat, make nice with your rich friends and cadge a ride.

    The ZR1 with two turbos will make big torque with the HP. Will be interesting how the HP, TQ and gearing are balanced

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